CELTIC fans have been swapping tales of a magical figure who has come bearing gifts to them for the past few years, and for much of the season, his very existence has seemed mythical. It may be fitting then that as we reach the festive period, Odsonne Edouard seems to have finally decided to remind us all that he is very much the real deal.

The French striker has been way below his brilliant best for much of this campaign, but as Celtic prepare their assault on Rangers’ lead at the top of the Premiership, it may be a timely development that Edouard has seemingly sparked into life.

He was dazzling in the second half here as Celtic finally broke down the stubborn resistance of Accies, who had managed to reach the interval on level terms thanks mainly to the performance of stand-in keeper Kyle Gourlay.

Neither he nor the Accies defence could do anything to resist Edouard after the interval though, as he led Celtic to what was ultimately a comfortable win.

He won the penalty that he scored to break the deadlock, teed up strike partner Leigh Griffiths for the second and headed against the post for David Turnbull to slam home a third. In between times, he led the Hamilton defence a merry dance with a combination of exquisite footwork and clever movement. Leading to the very obvious question of just where this Edouard has been all season?

It didn’t seem like the type of day a man of Edouard’s cultured talents would relish neither. Nothing says Christmas in Scotland after all like a football match played in a howling gale and torrential rain. To be fair to Hamilton and in particular Celtic though, they approached this match with a determination to play football on the deck. and the result was an entertaining encounter.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon tweaked the personnel a little from the midweek win over Ross County, but retained the 4-4-2 formation with David Turnbull at the point of a midfield diamond. Chris Jullien dropped out with a knee injury with Nir Bitton filling in at the back, while Greg Taylor came in for Diego Laxalt.

The visitors looked at it from the off, and an incisive move through the middle saw Odsonne Edouard put Leigh Griffiths in behind, only for Kyle Gourlay to pull off a wonderful save low down from close range to deny the striker.

That was the theme of the opening stages as Celtic pushed onto the deep lying Hamilton back five, with Jeremie Frimpong in particular proving a source of danger. He flashed a wonderful low ball across goal that had no takers, and then later clipped one up for Griffiths to head off the post.

Celtic kept knocking at he door, though Accies kept two in attack on most occasions to keep the visitors honest. Edouard was next to really threaten, showing wonderful feet in the box to dance his way to an opportunity only to then blaze over.

Accies saw out the half though with a couple of efforts from outside the box from Turnbull the only things to really trouble Gourlay from there to the break, the second of which was almost turned home by Griffiths, but was well fielded by the Hamilton keeper.

Celtic were handed the opportunity to finally beat Gourlay shortly after the restart though as Aaron Martin went in late on Edouard inside the area and referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot. There was to be no Panenka from Edouard on this occasion, but the end result was the same as the Frenchman planted his penalty high to Gourlay’s left to give Celtic a lead they deserved on the balance of play.

Turnbull fizzed a long-ranger just past the top corner and Christie could have had a second soon after as his high effort was palmed behind, with Celtic threatening to run away with it. And that, they duly did.

The combination that had worked so well for Celtic last season in attack clicked into gear once more as Edouard produced a lovely backheel on the edge of the area for Griffiths to run onto and blast home low, the shot just having too much on it for the game Accies stopper.

Edouard was in the mood now, and a lovely jinking run from deep allowed him to advance to the edge of the area where he teed up Turnbull, who should have done better than to shoot into the side-netting.

The Frenchman had some more tricks up his sleeve though, and a dazzling turn in midfield saw him release Callum McGregor down the left, whose cross was headed onto the post by the striker arriving in the box. Turnbull seized upon the rebound and finished emphatically for his second goal of the week and Celtic’s third of the day.

The goalscorers soon all took their leave as they rested up for Wednesday’s game against Dundee United. And for perhaps the first time this season, no one deserved to put their feet up more than Edouard.